For once, can I please write this column after a Lakers’ win? I customarily have only one rule I adhere to when it comes to my own writing. Don’t write angry. And when we win this series on Friday (fingers crossed), I’ll be sure to follow that rule. Until then, this is just going to have to do.
During the pasting at the Pepsi Center last night, I couldn’t help but draw the parallels between this years’ Denver Nuggets and the Portland Jail Blazers of the early 2000′s. Both teams were a collection of players whose talent was only paralleled by their idiocy; and I say was because that’s exactly what the Denver Nuggets will soon be. Check out the matchups:
Dahntay Jones, J.R. Smith, Chris Andersen, Kenyon Martin and Carmelo Anthony versus Ruben Patterson, Bonzi Wells, Qyntel Woods, Zach Randolph and Rasheed Wallace. How fun would that be to watch? There is no ceiling on the entertainment value of this game. If Jones tripped Sheed on the way to the basket, would Sheed stab him with a hand-carved spork? Would Zach Randolph try to eat J.R. Smith before, or after, he knocked him out? Who would win a fight between the Birdman and Qyntel Woods? The possibilities are endless. I say the winning team gets a carton of cigarettes for a year; the losing team has to read a book. Can somebody please make this happen?
Back to the WCF. Here’s what we know for sure: David Stern will admit a third of the NBA refs are legally blind before he lets the Denver Nuggets play for the NBA Championship. In what parallel universe will Stern hand the WCF trophy to Carmelo Anthony and praise the efforts of J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin? Speaking as a fan of NBA basketball, it’s a shame that a roster as talented as the Denver Nuggets so often falls victim to the classless actions of a few players. Speaking as a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers, it’s a shame that a roster as talented as the Lakers’ so often falls victim to the apathetic effort we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from these guys this season.
Once again, the Lakers beat themselves in a game that would have likely put this series on ice. Here are a few observations from last night’s game 4:
- The Nuggets bigs (K-Mart, Nene and the Birdman) were +19 on the boards against the Lakers bigs (Gasol, Drew and Odom). It’s not size, it’s toughness. At-least a dozen times the Lakers failed to box out and just watched the Nuggets corral the rebound. Even worse, half the time Pau and/or Bynum were pushed underneath the basket or ineffectively standing on the baseline. More times than not, they didn’t even recover to contest the put-back.
- The Lakers not named Kobe, Pau or Bynum shot a combined 10-38, including a 1-8 performance from Lamar and another subpar 2-7 from Derek Fisher. Speaking of subpar, did anyone else find it humorously ironic that Sasha Vujacic had an ice pack on his shooting hand? Is it even feasible that his shooting hand could possibly be more ice cold than it’s already been during these playoffs? I demand that he spends hours in the steam room before the game. Actually, it might be a good idea if he went there now and stayed until tip-off.
- Is it not disturbing that Nuggets fans are encouraging their poor children to emulate Chris Andersen? L-ESPN (Lebron’s Entertainment Sports Network) cut to several young kids sporting Mohawks and wearing the Birdman’s jersey. The lesson? “It’s okay to do cocaine as long as you learn from it and play like you’re still on it.” I guess we can blame it on all that snow up there in the Rockies.
As always, this series has more to do with the Lakers than it does with the Nuggets. When the Lakers are energized and focused, they are far superior to any team in the NBA. It’s their own bland and dreary play at times that becomes their own worst enemy. Can Kobe continue playing 42+ minutes per game and sustain his energy? Will Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol bounce back to clean up the glass? Will the Lakers role-players provide any sort of help in this series?
I think the answer can be found in the former words of Kobe Bryant, “You shake the tree, a leopard’s gonna’ fall out.” Thank you, Denver, for leveling the whole forest.
See you tomorrow.
Jason Riley is a columnist for the Lakers Nation. In addition to this column, he writes on an array of topics that you can check out by visiting J-Ri.com. You can email him by clicking here, look him up on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter for in-game coverage.